Problems of the media in Moldova versus the jump in the Press Freedom Index, analyzed by IJC and RSF experts: “Quality of the press, a guarantee for press freedom”

Moldova’s jump in the Press Freedom Index this year, to the 28th place out of 180 countries, can be explained by a mechanical effect, against the background of the worsening situation in other countries last year, but also by the improvement of scores related to political and economic contexts, the representatives of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) say. Meanwhile, in Chisinau, the Independent Journalism Center pointed out that the situation of the media in Moldova was marked by serious problems in 2022. Discussions on this topic took place at the workshop “Quality of the press, a guarantee for press freedom”, organized by the IJC in collaboration with RSF on September 21. 

The experts of the two organizations compared the results of two studies that are released annually: Index of the State of the Press in Moldova, which the IJC publishes at the beginning of every year, and the World Press Freedom Index, released every year in May, during Press Freedom Days.

Jeanne Cavelier, responsible for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Reporters Without Borders (RSF), explained the significant rise in Moldova’s position in the Press Freedom Index through a “mechanical effect”: better situation in our country against the background of an increasingly precarious situation at regional and global level. The expert noted that the RSF methodology is based on the assessment of five indicators related to the economic, political, social, legal, and media security contexts, and the 28th position is due to the increase of the score for political context (+9.09 points) and, especially, economic context (+10.12 points). 

“From the political perspective, the RSF study seeks to find out whether the process of obtaining media licenses is transparent, whether state-owned media outlets reflect all political views, and whether government officials and the political environment in general guarantee freedom of the press, while for the economic aspect it sought to find out whether the state correctly distributes support and publicity to all media outlets, whether competition between outlets improves the quality of journalism, or what is the rate of media concentration,” Cavalier pointed out.

Also, the RSF journalist noted that since 2014, the Press Freedom Index in Moldova has had a relatively stable development in relation to countries such as Ukraine and Georgia. On the other hand, in the last two years, Moldova registered the best results compared to these two countries, which also declared their pro-European course and the desire to join the European Union. At the same time, Moldova also has the best result in terms of press freedom among the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Jeanne Cavelier qualified the jump made by our country as one of a “good student”.

On the other hand, Nadine Gogu of the Independent Journalism Center (IJC) said during the discussions that in 2022, “the situation of the media in Moldova was marked by serious problems. Although, compared to previous years, there was a slight growth in the state of the press, this progress cannot be qualified as a stable trend,” as the Index of the State of Press in Moldova for last year, compiled by the Independent Journalism Center, shows in its conclusions.

The IJC director noted that “the recent challenges arising from the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine have aggravated the factors affecting the safety of journalists. In addition, although the laws governing the media field have been revised and supplemented with necessary provisions, their flawed implementation has remained a significant concern, especially with regard to access to information of public interest.” Meanwhile, she added, at regional level, the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia continued to approve provisions that are in conflict with national regulations and established standards. 

The event was also attended by Erik Larsson, a Swedish journalist, who reported on the situation of the press in his country, which has remained consistently at the top of the Press Freedom Index over the years. Although Sweden ranks 40th in terms of journalists’ safety, it ranks 4th in the world press freedom rankings. The journalist noted the importance of subsidizing the media sector by the state in a fair and transparent way, but also the need to protect journalists by means of all possible tools, in order to give them the freedom to do their work unhindered. 

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